Voodoo Fest 07: SCEA VIP Party With Spoon

November 1, 2007

Voodoo Fest 07: SCEA VIP Party
With Spoon


Louis Bedigian

During the second night of Voodoo
Fest, Sony Computer Entertainment America hosted a special concert with Spoon to
support the New Orleans Musician’s Relief Fund, a non-profit organization
dedicated to helping musicians whose lives were effected by hurricane Katrina.

The crowd couldn’t wait to get inside.

“We started the fund two days after
Katrina hit,” said chairman Jeff Beninato. “We were on vacation [in Chicago] and
watched it all go down. [Karen, co-chairman] quit her job the Friday night
before the hurricane hit. She was going to start another job two weeks later.”

But she didn’t. They instead chose
to start the fund and have been working hard to support New Orleans musicians
ever since. “Technically I’m still on vacation,” Karen jokes.

“We went out on the streets of
Chicago and passed out flyers,” Jeff continued. “Got on WGN, brought a guitar,
started traveling, did old New Orleans songs, and makin’ awareness. Before we
knew it we had $30,000 in the bank.”

Soon Wilco called and offered to put on a show for the fund. That concert and
other donations added up to about $170,000. Jeff said that they “started kicking
it out ‘cause we had so many friends that were still out there. They had
families and trying to figure out what they were gonna do. We sent ‘em cash. If
they needed food, a hotel room, go, spend it.”

They continued touring to promote
the fund and didn’t get back home for almost three months. But it’s been a rough
journey that’s far from over. “[New Orleans is] a long way from coming back,”
Jeff reminded us. “You look at the French Quarter and it’s cool and it’s
beautiful. But you go five miles that way and it’s devastating. There’s nothing
there. Just slabs.”

“Street signs are handwritten,”
Karen adds. “They made ‘em because they couldn’t take it anymore.”

The show was held at the famous
One-Eyed Jacks bar in the French Quarter. Proceeds were donated to the New
Orleans Musician’s Relief Fund, but Karen wants everyone to know that Katrina
didn’t solely hurt New Orleans musicians – the problems are much deeper than
that. “If you’re concerned about the safety of the ports, this is the port,” she
says. “If you love coffee, if you love oil, [both] come in from the port of New

Jeff and Karen hope to have other
New Orleans Musicians’ Relief Fund shows in the near future. For now, however,
REM, the Kaiser Chiefs, Edwin McCain, and other artists have donated music
tracks to the fund, which can be downloaded at nomrf.org.

Previous stories from Voodoo Fest

Voodoo Fest 07:
Trombone Shorty Interview

Voodoo Fest 07: Music Wrap-Up

Voodoo Fest 07: SingStar Stage

Voodoo Fest 07: The PlayStation Experience


Photos and Story by Louis